Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court (Haines v. Shewaga) awarding a Plaintiff $34,000 in non-pecuniary damages (pain and suffering) as a result of injuries sustained in a 2005 car crash in Nanaimo, BC.
One of the issues in this case which frequently comes up in ICBC Injury Claims is that of pre-existing conditions.
The Plaintiff was 22 at the time of the crash. He never had mid back pain in the years prior to the collision. His back was injured in the collision and he continued to have symptoms in his backat the time of trial (some 3 years later). After receiving medical treatment it was discovered that the Plaintiff had pre-existing (although asymptomatic) condition known as degenerative disc disease.
The court found that the Plaintiff suffered various soft-tissue injuries in the crash, namely that:
 I accept that the plaintiff sustained a mild to moderate whiplash type injury to the soft tissues of his neck, upper back (on the right side) and mid back, as well as a minor injury to his sternum area (likely from the seatbelt). I find that the plaintiff had substantially recovered from all of these injuries by the time of trial, except for the injury to his mid back. I accept that he still experiences pain in that area, after heavy and prolonged physical exertion. Some aspects of the work that he does as a deck installer will continue to cause him some pain, from time to time. But based on the whole of the evidence (and particularly on the plaintiff’s work record), I am not satisfied there is a substantial possibility that this pain will disable him from working.
With respect to the Plaintiff’s pre-existing and but now symptomatic degenerative disc disease Mr. Justice Halfyard found as follows:
 In my view, there is no significant conflict between Dr. Filbey and Dr. Warren on the subject under discussion. Nor would I discount Dr. Warren’s evidence on the ground that he now works almost exclusively for ICBC. I accept the opinions of both of these medical experts. As a consequence, I find that the plaintiff’s complaint of mid-back pain following the accident is strongly corroborated by the medical findings and opinions. There is no evidence whatever to suggest that the plaintiff had experienced pain in his mid-back before the accident, and he firmly denies this. I infer from the evidence given by the doctors that pain in the thoracic spine area from whiplash-type injury is far less common than pain in the cervical and lumbar spine. In the result, I am satisfied on the balance of probabilities that the motor vehicle accident caused the plaintiff’s latent pre-existing degenerative condition to become painful.
So how then, does a court value injuries when a pre-existing condition contributes to the duration of traumatic injury?
Here, Mr. Justice Halfyard reduced the Plaintiff’s award for pain and suffering by 15% to account for the chance that the Plaintiff’s degenerative disc disease would have become symptomatic at some point in time in the future even if the accident did not occur, thus the damages of $40,000 were reduced to $34,000.
On a different note, this claim is worth reviewing to see how BC Courts can deal with the issue of credibility in ICBC Injury Claims. The credibility of the Plaintiff often plays a crucial role in ICBC Soft Tissue Injury Cases. Here the ICBC Defence Lawyer challenged the credibility of the Plaintiff. The court indeed concluded that the Plaintiff was ‘not a credible witness’ and paragraphs 37-60 are worth reviewing for anyone interested in a discussion about factors courts consider when weighing the credibility of a Plaintiff in an ICBC Injury Claim.
Tag: back injury
Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court (Haines v. Shewaga) awarding a Plaintiff $34,000 in non-pecuniary damages (pain and suffering) as a result of injuries sustained in a 2005 car crash in Nanaimo, BC.
On Friday the BC Supreme Court released reasons for judgement dealing with awards for pain and suffering in 3 separate motor vehicle accident cases.
In my continued efforts to create an easy to access data-base of ICBC related claims for pain and suffering here are the highlights of these cases:
In the first case (Driscoll v. Desharnais) the Plaintiff suffered soft tissue injuries to his neck, back and shoulder in a 2003 BC motor vehicle collision. In justifying an award for non-pecuniary damages (pain and suffering) of $55,000 the court summarized the injuries and their effect on the Plaintiff’s life as follows:
 The trial occurred about five years following the accident. Mr. Driscoll continues to suffer pain, significant sleep disturbance, and restrictions on his activities. He is stoic and is inclined to push through pain until it becomes intolerable. He has a reduced capacity to work, and despite his preference for working alone, he cannot operate his business without hiring other workers. He is no longer able to participate in some of the activities he enjoyed, such as motorcycle riding, full-contact ball hockey, golf, and rough-housing with his children.
 The evidence demonstrated on a balance of probabilities that these problems were caused by the accident. Although Mr. Driscoll had received physiotherapy prior to the accident, the treatments were all at least 18 months prior to the accident, and were for short periods. All the problems had resolved prior to the accident. The injury he suffered on the toboggan appeared to be a brief flare-up of his back symptoms, rather than a new injury.
A highlight of this decision for me was the court’s discussion of credibility. One of the tricks of the trade for ICBC defence lawyers in ICBC Soft Tissue Injury Claims is to challenge the credibility of the Plaintiff. That appeared to be a tactic employed in this case and the Defendant asked the court to consider the following well-known principle often cited in ICBC Soft Tissue Injury Cases:
 The case of Price v. Kostryba (1982), 70 B.C.L.R. 397 (S.C.), is often cited as a reminder of the approach the court must take to assessing injuries which depend on subjective reports of pain. I quote portions of pages 397-399 of those reasons for judgment:
The assessment of damages in a moderate or moderately severe whiplash injury is always difficult because plaintiffs, as in this case, are usually genuine, decent people who honestly try to be as objective and as factual as they can. Unfortunately, every injured person has a different understanding of his own complaints and injuries, and it falls to judges to translate injuries to damages.
Perhaps no injury has been the subject of so much judicial consideration as the whiplash. Human experience tells us that these injuries normally resolve themselves within six months to a year or so. Yet every physician knows some patients whose complaint continues for years, and some apparently never recover. For this reason, it is necessary for a court to exercise caution and to examine all the evidence carefully so as to arrive at a fair and reasonable compensation. Previously decided cases are some help (but not much, because obviously every case is different). …
In Butler v. Blaylock, decided 7th October 1981, Vancouver No. B781505 (unreported), I referred to counsel’s argument that a defendant is often at the mercy of a plaintiff in actions for damages for personal injuries because complaints of pain cannot easily be disproved. I then said:
I am not stating any new principle when I say that the court should be exceedingly careful when there is little or no objective evidence of continuing injury and when complaints of pain persist for long periods extending beyond the normal or usual recovery.
An injured person is entitled to be fully and properly compensated for any injury or disability caused by a wrongdoer. But no one can expect his fellow citizen or citizens to compensate him in the absence of convincing evidence — which could be just his own evidence if the surrounding circumstances are consistent – that his complaints of pain are true reflections of a continuing injury.
Fortunately for the Plaintiff a positive finding was made as to his reliability and damages were assessed accordingly.
The second case released on Friday (Eccleston v. Dresen) involved a 2002 collision which took place in Salmon Arm, BC. The injuries included chronic soft tissue injuries of moderate severity and a chronic pain syndrome. Both liability and quantum of damages (value of the ICBC Injury Claim) were at issue. The Plaintiff was found 60% at fault for the collision.
In assessing the Plaintiff’s non-pecuniary damages at $108,000 Mr. Justice Barrow made the following findings:
 I am satisfied that the plaintiff suffered a moderate soft tissue injury to her neck and upper back. Further, I am satisfied that she developed and continues to suffer chronic pain as a result. I am also satisfied that she is depressed and that the proximate cause of her depression is the pain she experiences.
 I am not satisfied that her complaints of pain are motivated by any secondary gain; rather, I am satisfied that she has met the onus of establishing that, as Taylor J.A. in Maslen v. Rubenstein (1993), 83 B.C.L.R. (2d) 131, 33 B.C.A.C. 182, at para. 8 put it:
…her psychological problems have their cause in the defendant’s unlawful act, rather than in any desire on the plaintiff’s part for things such as care, sympathy, relaxation or compensation, and also that the plaintiff could not be expected to overcome them by his or her own inherent resources, or ‘will-power’.
 Further, I am satisfied that the plaintiff’s condition is likely permanent; although it is more likely than not that it will moderate if she follows the advice of Dr. O’Breasail. He is of the view that with intensive psychotherapy for at least a year, followed by two further years of less intensive therapy coupled with a review of her medications and particularly anti-depressant medication, there is some hope that she will either experience less pain or be better able to cope with the pain she does experience, or both.
The final motor vehicle accident case addressing pain and suffering released on Friday (Murphy v. Jagerhofer) involved a Plaintiff who was injured in a 2004 rear end collision in Chilliwack, BC. The injuries included a moderate to severe whiplash injury with associated chronic pain, disturbed sleep and headaches. In justifying a non-pecuniary damages award of $100,000 Mr. Justice Warren made the following factual findings after a summary trial pursuant to Rule 18-A:
 The issue of causation in this case is determined by applying the factors in Athey. Here the defendants argue that there were pre-existing conditions that would have affected the plaintiff in any event. I disagree. I find on the evidence of both Dr. Porter and Dr. Bishop that the plaintiff was asymptomatic of the complaints he now has which have arisen from the injuries he suffered in this accident. Using the rather macabre terms found in other cases, this plaintiff had a “thin skull” rather than a “crumbling skull” and on my reading of those medical opinions I prefer, I find there was no “measurable risk that the pre-existing condition would have detrimentally affected the plaintiff in the future. . . .” Athey, per Major, J. at para. 35.
 Accordingly, I find that the presenting complaints of the plaintiff were caused by the negligence of the defendant driver and I turn to address the issue of appropriate compensation. In this, I am strongly influenced by the opinions of Drs. Porter and Longridge and the opinion of Mr. Koch. The plaintiff suffered a moderate to severe whiplash type injury which had a significant physical and emotional effect upon him some of which have persisted to the day of trial and will continue into the future. The back and neck pain caused him considerable pain and caused sleeplessness, headaches and general body pain for which he was prescribed pain medication. Many of these symptoms continued well into 2005 despite his participation in a Work Hardening Programme in the fall of 2004. I accept that he has tried every mode in an effort to alleviate his symptoms. In his opinion, Dr. Bishop dismissed passive therapies, but I conclude it was understandable that the plaintiff would follow other professional advice and give these therapies every chance to help. I say that with the exception of the later cortisone injections, which are painful and of very limited result, and also the later chiropractic attention.
 Added to his back and neck pain, the plaintiff has experienced some hearing loss, tinnitus and episodes of dizziness. These are frustrating and to some extent debilitating. He also has jaw, or temporal mandibular joint arthralgia and myofascial pain. He was given an oral appliance which he is to wear on a daily basis yet he continues to experience jaw stiffness and fatigue.
 It is understandable that these conditions have affected him emotionally. The opinion of Mr. Koch corroborates the plaintiff’s evidence. I accept the opinion of Mr. Koch that the plaintiff “downplays” the difficulties in his life and that the plaintiff has a phobia of motor vehicle travel, post-traumatic stress disorder and related repressive symptoms.
I hope these case highlights continue to be a useful resource for my readers in helping learn about the value of non-pecuniary damages in ICBC Injury Claims. As always, I welcome any feedback from all my visitors.
Reasons for judgement were released today by the BC Supreme Court awarding a Plaintiff just over $50,000 in total damages as a result of a motor vehicle collision, $25,000 of which represented non-pecuniary damages (money for pain and suffering).
The collision occurred in 2005. The Plaintiff’s vehicle was rear-ended. The court concluded that the force of the impact was mild.
The court accepted that the Plaintiff suffered a mild muscular injury to his lower back in the motor vehicle accident. The court also found, however, that the Plaintiff was partly to blame for his ongoing symptoms stating that:
 The fact that Mr. Moojelski has been long-delayed in returning to a normal state of health results from a combination of inadequate or ineffective exercise and supervision, Mr. Moojelski’s refusal to take prescribed medications in prescribed dosages and his decision to exceed the recommended dosages by some substantial margin. In that regard, Mr. Moojelski admitted that he reported to Dr. McPherson that when he had been prescribed Tylenol 3, he had used 6 tablets every 2 hours, greatly in excess of the prescribed quantity. I find that it is likely that Mr. Moojelski’s mental health was adversely affected by his personal decision to rely on marijuana as a source of relief rather than adhering to his physician’s prescription of anti-depressants, and by not pursuing physical reconditioning of the kind Dr. le Nobel considers appropriate to a man of his pre-accident physical ability and age.
The court found that the Plaintiff should fully recover from his injury. In valuing the pain and suffering claim at $25,000 the court noted the Plaintiff’s role in his prolonged symptoms stating as follows:
 In all of the circumstances, I am satisfied that an award of $25,000 as general damages adequately compensates Mr. Moojelski for the pain and suffering he has endured, and for the adverse effect upon his enjoyment of life and the loss of amenities. In that assessment, I have taken into account the onset of a mild depression in March 2006, which was accident-related. However, the depression was prolonged by Mr. Moojelski’s failure to adhere to the use of prescribed medications. His refusal was unreasonable and is therefore reflected in the assessment of general damages.
Reasons for judgment were released today by the BC Supreme Court awarding a 24 year old Plaintiff just over $100,000 in damages as a result of injuries and loss suffered in 2 BC motor vehicle collisions.
Both collisions were rear-end crashes. The first occurred in February, 2004, the second in July of the same year. Fault was admitted by ICBC on behalf of the Defendants in both accidents. This trial dealt with quantum of damages (value of these injury claims).
The Plaintiff had generally good health before the collisions. After the collisions she suffered from various symptoms. The extent of her injuries and their relationship to the crashes was at issue at trial.
The court found that the Plaintiff suffered from back pain, neck pain and headaches and that these injuries were related to the collisions. The court accepted that these are ‘musculoligamentous strains….(and that the Plaintiff) will be prone to ongoing muscular discomfort in the neck and lower back in the years to come…..and that it is unlikely that her symptoms will settle altogether‘.
The court awarded damages as follows:
(1) Non-pecuniary damages: $ 55,000;
(2) Past Loss of Income: $ 3,000;
(3) Loss of earning capacity: $ 25,000;
(4) Cost of Future Care: $ 15,000;
(5) Special Damages: $ 4,500.
Reasons for judgement were released today awarded damages as a result of injuries sustained in a 2005 Kamloops, BC car crash.
The Plaintiff’s vehicle was rear-ended as she slowed to make a right hand turn.
Normally in such rear-end cases liability (fault) is admitted but in this case liabilty was disputed. The Defendant claimed that the accident was caused by the actions of the plaintiff when she ‘accelerated in front of him, cut him off and themn braked quite dramatically at the corner (of the intersection).’
The court rejected this defence and found that “this is not a case where the evidence supports a conclusion that the plaintiff’s vehicle cut in front of the defendant in such a way as to alleviate his responsibility‘. The defendant was found 100% to blame.
In terms extent of injury, the court made the relevant findings at paragraphg 50 of the judgement, which I set out below:
 I conclude that (the Plaintiff) sustained a moderate soft tissue whiplash injury in December 2005 which caused pain and discomfort to her neck and back and resulted in her experiencing headaches. These symptoms were initially acute, causing her to miss approximately three weeks of work and necessitating that she take pain medication and treatment, most notably physiotherapy. The pain and discomfort at times extended to her hip area. It gradually subsided with the passage of time. It was significantly resolved within three to four months of the accident, but she continued to experience some discomfort and limitation of her activities, albeit on a gradually improving basis, over time, up to the point of trial. At trial, all of the complaint of headache had resolved but there was some lingering discomfort and stiffness in her neck and back. That discomfort is essentially resolved at this time, and there is every reason to conclude that she has not sustained any permanent damage. With proper exercise and self-care, there will be a complete resolution
The court awarded $22,000 for these moderate soft tissue injuries, $2,163.21 for lost wages and $351 for special damages.
This is a short crisp judgement dealing with issues that often arise in ICBC claims. This case is worth reviewing for anyone involved in an ICBC injury claim to see some of the factors court’s consider when valuing soft tissue injuries and addressing the issue of fault in a rear-end crash.
With the exception of experienced BC injury lawyers, most people advancing ICBC claims need to do extensive research to determine fair value for pain and suffering in an ICBC injury claim. One of the best ways to go about this is to look at BC court cases for similar injuries and see just how much, or how little, our courts award for pain and suffering for various injuries.
If you are advancing an ICBC chronic pain case, reasons for judgement were released today that are worth reviewing.
The Plaintiff was involved in a two vehicle accident on January 9, 2006. He stopped his vehicle for a cyclist who was crossing in a marked crosswalk. Shortly afterwards the Plaintiff was rear-ended by a Jeep Cherokee. The impact was significant causing ‘substantial damage’ to the Plaintiff’s vehicle.
The Plaintiff reported several injuries as a result of this rear-end crash including left shoulder pain, dizziness, headaches, neck and back pain, and numbness to his left arm.
The Plaintiff’s family doctor referred him to an orthopaedic specialist who stated that the Plaintiff “has had some soft tissue injuries to the cervical and lumbar spine….he does not require any special investigation as he has no neurological defecits. I would encourage him to return to work‘
Shortly after this time the Plaintiff switched family physicians. His new treating doctor diagnsosed major depression and soft tissue injury to the neck, shoulder and back. Specifically she diagnosed
a left anterior supraspinatus tear and multiple soft tissue injuries of the neck and back, possible muscle spasm, strains, contusions, cervical facet syndrome and discogenic pain…..(and) two other medical conditions, major depression and peptic ulcers, since the MVA in January 2006. I believe these two conditions were precipitated by the chronic pain and stress caused by the accident.
She went on to state that:
(the Plaintiff) has not been able to return to work, his function remains partially impaired and his level of activity is significantly reduced. His chronic pain and his depression symptoms have significantly restricted his ability to perform a range of daily living activities on ongoing basis such as personal self care, meal preparation, basic housework, daily shopping and use of transportation.
The court also heard from an ‘independent medical examiner’ who stated that “permanent disability is not anticpiated as a result of the accident.’ and that ‘the only objective finding (of injury) was that of restricted movement of the cervical spine. All complaints otherwise were of a subjective nature.’
This doctor made some interesting comments about chronic pain, namely that:
Many authors who have studied chronic pain syndromes have demonstrated that patients have been shown to have beliefs and expectations of chronic pain which are critical cognitive facilitators or impediments to the recovery process. The attribution of blame may be an unrecognized factor co-related to pain behaviour, mood disturbance, and poor response to treatment. It is unlikely that (the Plaintiff) is going to change his perceptions of pain until the issues are resolved for him.
The court made it’s key findings at paragraphs 24 and 25 where Justice Rice stated:
 I accept that as a result of the motor vehicle accident Mr. Niloufari suffered moderate strains to his neck and back which have caused him substantial pain and suffering over the two years and several months since the accident. I find these injuries have disabled him from any activities, including his work. As it stands now, more than two years have passed since the date of the accident with little hint of improvement in his pain and suffering or capacity to work.
 I am satisfied that the plaintiff suffers chronic pain with both physical and psychological components. I am not entirely satisfied that he has done his best to mitigate his loss by exercising and seeking psychiatric and/or psychological advice and treatment. I am not satisfied based on the medical evidence, that Mr. Niloufari should expect to be permanently disabled or disabled at all after a few years from now with diligent attention to his rehabilitation. I would expect him to gradually recover, as Dr. Hill suggested, over the next three or four years, with the expectation he could return to work in a limited capacity within one year.
The court awarded damages for pain and suffering, lost pass of income, loss of future earning capacity, special damages and cost of future care.
The non-pecuniary damage award (pain and suffering) was $63,000.
This case is worth reading for anyone advancing and ICBC injury claim seeking damages for ‘loss of earning capacity’ for Justice Rice’s summary of the law on this topic at paragraphs 75-84 of the judgment.
Written reasons for judgment were released today by Madam Justice Stromberg-Stein of the BC Supreme Court awarding a Plaintiff just over $60,000 for her losses and damages as a result of a 2005 BC Car Accident.
The Plaintiff was in her mid 20’s when she was involved in an intersection crash involving a left turning vehicle. The lawyer for the offending driver admitted liability (fault) for the accident leaving the issue of quantum of damages (value of the injuries) to be addressed at trial.
The Plaintiff suffered several injuries including soft tissue injuries to her neck and lower back. Her most significant injury was a fibro-cartilage tear of her right wrist and a possible scapholunate ligament injury as well.
The Plaintiff had 14 sessions of physiotherapy which created ‘some improvement’ of her neck injury. The Plaintiff had an MRI of her wrist which revealed a tear of the triangular fibro-cartilage complex (a “TFC tear”). The Plaintiff had a cortisone injection in her wrist which offered some temporary relief. Arthroscopic surgery was also recommended by an orthopaedic surgeon but the Plaintiff elected not to have this procedure done until her son was older.
The Plaintiff’s lawyers sought just over $150,000 in damages as a result of these injuries. The defence lawyers suggested numbers were significantly lower. Such a discrepancy is common in most ICBC injury claims that go to trial.
After hearing the evidence the court awarded damages as follows:
a) $35,000.00 for non-pecuniary damages;
b) $7,812.00 for past wage loss, subject to Part 7 and statutory deductions;
c) $486.99 for special damages;
d) $20,000.00 for diminishment of earning capacity; and
e) $1000.00 for cost of future care.
The court’s discussion relating to ‘diminshed earning capacity’ is worth reading for anyone advancing an ICBC injury claim concerned with future wage loss. In this case the Plaintiff was able to return to work for a period of time following the accident before leaving the workforce on maternity leave. By the time of trial the Plaintiff was retraining for a different profession. The court agreed with the defence lawyers point that this change of careers ‘is a natural progression for somebody (in the Plaintiff’s) position‘ and the court also put weight in the defence lawyer’s position that the Plaintiff ‘never worked a full year.’
The court cited one of the better known quotes from the BC Court of Appeal addressing ‘diminished earning capacity‘ which states:
Because it is impairment that is being redressed, even a plaintiff who is apparently going to be able to earn as much as he could have earned if not injured or who, with retraining, on the balance of probabilities will be able to do so, is entitled to some compensation for the impairment. He is entitled to it because for the rest of his life some occupations will be closed to him and it is impossible to say that over his working life the impairment will not harm his income earning ability.
The court concluded that only a ‘modest award‘ was appropriate for the Plaintiff’s diminished capacity and awarded $20,000 for this loss.
Do you have questions about an ICBC wrist injury claim or an ICBC claim involving ‘diminished earning capacity‘ (future wage loss)? Do you need advice from an ICBC claims lawyer? If so, click here to arrange your free consultation with Victoria ICBC Claims Lawyer Erik Magraken (Services provided for ICBC injury claims throughout BC!)
In reasons for judgment released this week, Madam Justice Humphries of the BC Supreme Court awarded a 60 year old Plaintiff a total of $19,840 in compensation as a result of soft tissue injuries sustained in a British Columbia motor vehicle accident.
The Plaintiff’s vehicle was rear-ended on July 25, 2005. The accident is the kind that ICBC typically likes to call an LVI (Low Velocity Impact) as the damage to the vehicle totalled $200.
A year later, in August 2006, the Plaintiff was involved in another rear-end accident. This time she was a passenger. This accident also is the type ICBC likes to characterize as an LVI accident as the vehicle damage cost approximatley $480 to fix. The Plaintiff testified the second accident did not aggravate her symptoms from the first accident and no issue was taken with this assertion at trial.
The Plaintiff filed a report in court authored by her family doctor. The doctor’s evidence was that the Plaintiff suffered from “Whiplash, left shoulder (muscle strain) and back muscle strain.”
The court found the Plaintiff to be a credible witness. The Plaintiff’s injuries were accepted on the basis “of 9 months of pain causing restriction, and a further six months of gradual improvement with ongoing fairly minor symptoms of decreasing frequency“.
In the end the court awarded damages as follows:
Pain and Suffering: $15,000
Past Wage Loss: $4,790.50
Mileage Expenses for treatments: $50
This case was a short one day trial heard in Vancouver, BC and is a good example of a simple ICBC claim getting heard without excessive burden on our justice system or the parties involved.
Do you have have questions about an ICBC whiplash claim or an LVI claim that you wish to discuss with an ICBC claims lawyer? If so click here to contact ICBC claims lawyer Erik Magraken for a free consultation.
BC Courts have heard many ICBC claims involving PTSD and Chronic Pain Syndrome. In reasons for judgement released this week Mr. Justice Cullen heard and dismissed a PTSD claim and Chronic Pain Syndrome claim as a result of a motor vehicle collision.
In 2004 the Plaintiff, who was a passenger in her boyfriend’s vehicle, was involved in a collision where her vehicle rear-ended the vehicle in front of her. The accident occurred on Nanaimo Street in Vancouver, BC. She advanced a tort claim against her boyfriend who was deemed to be the at-fault driver (a tort claim is the legal term used to describe a civil action, such as an ICBC claim for damages against an at fault driver).
ICBC, on the boyfriend’s behalf, admitted fault but disputed the alleged injuries. The Plaintiff claimed to suffer from soft tissue injuries to her neck and back, a myofacial pain syndrome and/or a pain disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder.
As in alsmost all ICBC claims involving alleged chronic pain, the court heard from a number of expert witnesses including the Plaintiff’s family doctor, a physiotherapist, a physiatrist (rehabilitaiton specialist) a psychologist and an orthopaedic surgeon. The orthopaedic surgeon was a defence witness who conducted an ‘independent medical exam’ of the Plaintiff pursuant to the BC Rules of Court.
In the Plaintiff’s case evidence was led that she suffered from a ‘myofacial pain syndrome’ which was described as ‘a central nervous system disorder with peripheral manifestations of muscle tightness and soreness to palpation over areas called trigger points…areas in the muscles that are rich in nerve endings’.
A psychologist testified that the Plaintiff suffered from a Post Traumatic Pain Disorder (PTSD) and also that she suffered from ‘many symptoms of a pain disorder’.
The orthopaedic surgeon, who is often used by ICBC, testified that the Plaintiff suffered from soft tissue injuries to her neck, upper back and shoulders, along with some cuts and bruises. He dismissed the connection of the Plaintiff’s low back complaints to the accident by stating “There is a basic premise in medicine that if a site has been traumatized, that site becomes symptomatic immediately, right after the MVA or certainly within the first few days after the MVA”. He then testified that his physical examination of the Plaintiff was ‘completely normal’ and he regarded any soft tissue injuries sustained by the Plaintiff as resolved.
In the end the court rejected the Plaintiff’s claim for PTSD and Chronic Pain Disorder and found that the Plaintiff suffered mild to moderate soft tissue injuries to her neck, upper back and shoulder. The court also found that the Plaintiff’s low back symptoms which developed 3 months post accident were causally connected to the accident either through compensatory back pain of through myofacial pain syndrome. The court also found that the Plaintiff suffered from anxiety as a result of the accident and awarded $35,000 for pain and suffering, $560 for past out of pocket expenses and a further $700 to permit the Plaintiff to attend further counselling sessions with her pscyhologist to treat her anxiety.
This judgement is worth a quick read if you are advancing an ICBC claim involving chronic pain or PTSD to see some of the factors courts look at when weighing competing medical evidence. The judgement seems to be a compromise between the competing evidence accepting that the Plaintiff’s injuries, while not PTSD or Chronic Pain Syndrome, were not resolved by the time of trial. When considering settling an ICBC claim it is good to become familiar with how courts treat similar injuries and what the various outcomes at trial can be.
Do you have questions about an ICBC claim involving PTSD or Chronic Pain that you want to discuss with an ICBC Claims Lawyer? If so, click here to contact ICBC Claims Lawyer Erik Magraken for a free consultation.
I have blogged several times with respect to ICBC’s LVI (Low Velocity Impact) Defence with a view towards educating BC vehcicle collision victims that ICBC’s LVI Policy is not the law, rather it is an internal policy geared towards saving ICBC money.
ICBC’s LVI policy, when used in the defence of an injury claim, is often rejected by BC courts. The LVI policy has one fatal flaw, assuming that the amount of vehicle damage (or lack therof) is related to the severity or possibility of sustaining injury.
This week reasons for judgement were published in which the ICBC defence lawyer ran the LVI Defence. Mr. Justice Macaulay rejected this defence and in doing so used the best language I have yet come across as an ICBC claims lawyer in explaining the flaw in the LVI Program’s logic. At Paragraph’s 3-4 the court summaries the evidence led by the ICBC defence lawyer as follows:
 According to Jiang, a line of traffic was stopped waiting for the left-turn signal. When the light changed, the line started to move. Jiang testified that the Lubick vehicle stopped when the light changed to yellow and he was not able to stop before hitting it. He said the vehicles “barely touched” and that the impact was “very light, just a little boom”.
 The evidence of the ICBC estimator confirms that the impact was relatively minimal. The Lubick vehicle sustained cosmetic damage to the rear bumper.
Mr. Justice Macaulay then goes on to dismiss the logic behind the LVI policy in very strong words. At paragraphs 5-6 of the judgement the court takes the following very harsh view of the so called LVI Defence:
 The Courts have long debunked as myth the suggestion that low impact can be directly correlated with lack of compensable injury. In Gordon v. Palmer,  B.C.J. No. 474 (S.C.), Thackray J., as he then was, made the following comments that are still apposite today:
I do not subscribe to the view that if there is no motor vehicle damage then there is no injury. This is a philosophy that the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia may follow, but it has no application in court. It is not a legal principle of which I am aware and I have never heard it endorsed as a medical principle.
He goes on to point out that the presence and extent of injuries are determined on the evidence, not with “extraneous philosophies that some would impose on the judicial process”. In particular, he noted that there was no evidence to substantiate the defence theory in the case before him. Similarly, there is no evidence to substantiate the defence contention that Lubick could not have sustained any injury here because the vehicle impact was slight.
 I am satisfied that Lubick sustained an injury in the collision in spite of the low impact.
Do you have questions about an LVI claim denial? If so feel free to contact the author of this article for a no-obligation consultation.